Monday, August 13, 2012

Dressing for Success – or Failure?

School has resumed in many states, and will soon in others. I can remember when Labor Day was not only a commemoration of hard work, but also the artificial demarcation between summer vacation and the start of a new school year. Now school has already been in session for nearly a month by the time Labor Day arrives.

The commencing of another school year also means the renewal of issues that administrators and school boards confronted the previous year. One of those is the school dress code: What is appropriate to wear – and what is not.

Being a teacher in a tank top
can be a 'tank-less" jobs.
What surprised me recently was reading that several states have had to enact dress codes…for teachers.

Seems the problem of short shorts, bare midriffs, tank tops, holey jeans and flip-flops is not exclusive to students. Some teachers seem to delight in dressing in slovenly attire as well.

We often hear about rebellious students and teachers frantically trying to maintain control in the classroom. My dad always used to say that if you dressed like a slob, people would treat you like a slob. Apparently students believe that about their teachers.

Years ago Dress for Success became a bible about what to wear – and what not to wear – to advance in the business world. Fashions have changed through the three decades since, to the point where “business casual” now seems the height of workplace fashion, but the principle still holds true. We make an impression – a lasting one, for good or ill – by how we initially look to people.

It’s true “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” but when was the last time you bothered to read a book that looked like its cover was designed in a garbage can?

Problems in public schools today are many and complex, but it seems to me at the very least, if teachers want to be respected and listened to so their students will learn from them, the least they could do is dress in a manner that’s worthy of respect.

Proverbs 10:17 says, “He who heeds discipline shows the way to life….” Carefully, thoughtfully selecting what to wear when you’re seeking to inspire students toward better lives would be good discipline.

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